Helen: Daria, the easiest thing in the world for you is being honest about what you observe.
Helen: What's hard for you is being honest about your wishes. About the way you think things should be, not the way they are. You gloss over it with a cynical joke and nobody finds out what you really believe in.
: Aha! So my Evil Plan
, "Write Where It Hurts"
The fraternal twin of the Stepford Smiler
. The Stepford Snarker has intense feelings of sadness, anger, numbness, loneliness, or other negative emotions, but, for whatever reason, wants to hide these feelings from the people around them. But whereas the Stepford Smiler hides these feelings by acting sweet and happy, the Snarker hides them by being snide and sarcastic
. They often put on an outward appearance of being very jaded and bitter (though some may maintain a brighter disposition when in a better mood, snarking only when upset), and make sarcastic comments about everything and everybody, but those that are able to break their shell find that they're actually deeply hurt. If they're able to heal, they'll not necessarily stop being sarcastic — it may just be a part of their personality — but they'll hopefully find a way to express their feelings to their loved ones, rather than solely hiding them with their quips.
In addition, they may be an example of The Snark Knight
, but don't always have to be. While the Snark Knight is antisocial and sarcastic because of discontent with their surroundings, the Stepford Snarker doesn't have to be anti-social. They could have many friends and even an optimistic view of the world itself, so long as they still hide their bad moods with snark. A staple of the Jerkass Woobie
and frequently seen in Goths
. Closely related to Sugar and Ice Personality
, Broken Bird
and Defrosting Ice Queen
, all of whom might use this sort of snark as a way of masking their inner sweetness. Compare/contrast Sad Clown
, who is less rude and more ridiculous. Compare Jerkass Fašade
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Yuu Yanase from Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi. The guy is already a troll to a certain extent and an Ineffectual Loner but he has shown signs of being one as time goes on. Given that your feelings are constantly ignored or laughed at by your best friend who is already taken by your Yandere rival is enough to be depressed, but given that your friend has become more of a jerk as a result of dating said rival is enough would want to make you even more snarky. And given that his last appearance has him break down for being rejected a second time physically and emotionally one can only tell if he becomes a full-blown one.
- Bleach: Ryuuken Ishida comes across as grim, bitter, sarcastic and hypercritical although there are hints that he's actually a gentle, protective personality underneath it all. Then the final arc visits the past in flashback and it reveals that he really was an open, gentle, very protective person until a series of circumstances ruined his quincy future, doomed his adopted cousin and, worst of all, culminated in the loss of his wife. The people responsible are still at large (and pose a serious threat to his son Uryuu, the only surviving member of his family) and the story all but confirms he's a Heartbroken Badass. The man's still incredibly protective, but he's learned the hard way to hide it.
- Lupo from Minimonsters acts like this when he's not sleeping or eating whatever he sees. He is a werewolf who has to take care of his younger siblings instead playing with his friends, as his family is (probably) the most poor one in Villa Susto. As a result, he is incredibly sarcastic to everyone, even his own friends. His main target of his snark is his filthy rich vampire "friend" Victor Von Piro. No explanation needed.
- Depending on the Writer, Deadpool comes across like this, using his sense of humor to cope with his past trauma at Weapon X, as well as his own failings as a person.
- Likewise, depending on the writer Spider-Man does this for similar reasons. He uses his quippy brand of sarcasm to hide the fact he's usually pretty scared, self doubting and carries around a massive Guilt Complex.
- The Avengers has quite a lot of snarkers, most of whom are garden variety Deadpan Snarkers, but Tony Stark and Bruce Banner specifically fit this trope because their sarcasm is respectively a defence mechanism and a way of maintaining self-control. This is particularly evident after Agent Coulson gets killed, and Tony snarks about how stupid he was to face Loki alone, but is clearly using it to cover up his own grief. Given that Tony's own films show his life to be something of a mess, with quite a lot of moral emptiness (before he decides to become a superhero), alcoholism, and relationship issues (continuing after he becomes a superhero) he counts as this trope in all his films.
- By Thor: The Dark World Loki is this. A few unguarded moments show that he actually still does care (at least about Frigga, though possibly about Thor and his former friends too) but he spends most of his time among other people, especially the Asgardians, snarking at them to cover up both this and his pain that they now (at least seem to) hate him.
- From Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope Von Schweetz fits this to a T. Years of being forbidden from racing in her game due to her forced status as a glitch reduced her to a snarky shell. Her budding friendship with the title character eventually revealed her Hidden Depths.
- Tyrion Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire is a deformed dwarf who is widely hated for his infirmities. He develops into a brutally Deadpan Snarker as a coping mechanism, which, as he admits himself, only makes things worse.
- Marco from Animorphs gets like this from time to time. He explicitly states several times that he is choosing to see things that upset or scare him as funny, because he has no interest in the alternative.
- Nora Irving of Stuck has a sharp wit in general, but becomes outright spiteful at times when she gets irritated or sad.
Live Action TV
- Veronica Mars: sophomore year, she is ridiculed, outcasted and raped after the death of her best friend. Junior year, she makes quips.
- Ellie on Degrassi The Next Generation is introduced as a wry goth girl who frequently makes biting, sarcastic comments. After a while, it is revealed that she is deeply depressed.
- Goth: Goth girl Daisy and Jerkass Woobie Shelby from Higher Ground often use sarcasm as a defense mechanism. Ezra could qualify as one, but he's probably better described as a Sad Clown.
- Chandler could be a poster child for this trope. He openly admits to using sarcasm to hide deep insecurity that developed due to his rather unusual and traumatic childhood. His snarking also grows noticeably worse during painful situations such as Ross and Rachel's break up, his parents visiting or friends leaving. When he falls in love with Monica, the fact he isn't as sarcastic with her is a telling indicator of how secure he feels and how she builds his confidence.
Chandler: Hmm, what must it be like not to be crippled by fear and self-loathing? (laughs)
- Monica whenever her critical, emotionally abusive Jerkass of a mother is around.
Judy: Oh we don't mind paying for our son's wedding in England. After all it might be the only wedding we get to throw...
Monica: Ah, a joke that's funny in all countries.
- Santana from Glee has always been ruthlessly snarky - even cruel. Turns out she was hiding bitterness and loneliness due to being in love with Brittany and unable to come to terms with it. Even now while her friends are trying to being supportive and get her to open up, she's still as prickly as ever.
- Naomi from Skins outright admitted that she "learned how to be a sarcastic bitch" as way to hide her feelings for Emily.
- Doctor Who:
- When the Ninth Doctor gets snarky about humanity, it's often a sign that he's very upset and trying hard not to show it. Rose even lampshades this in "The Doctor Dances".
- River Song. "Oh, I hate you." is usually in force when she's very worried or upset.
- John Munch, Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire. In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, he is directly asked, "Do you always deflect personal questions with jokes?" His immediate response is "Do you always deflect jokes with personal questions?", which, being somewhat less impressive than his usual quips, suggests that did actually get to him. Given the fact that he's spent most of his career dealing with brutal murders and horrible sex-crimes, it's not all that surprising that he needs some sort of defence mechanism.
- Dr. Cox from Scrubs: Partly it's because he's more desensitized to the hospital environment than the young staff he works with. The rest is because, as his therapist tells him, he has a personality that craves any kind of attention, positive or negative.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- Garak is both a Stepford Smiler and a Stepford Snarker. He's always amiable, cheerful, engaging and polite... and also very sarcastic. Strip away the Stepford Smiler routine and what's left is the Stepford Snarker routine. Then he suffers a life-threatening breakdown that reveals the truth: his exile is absolute agony for him. He's lonely, desolate, full of self-loathing from the contempt he receives off the station's Bajorans and even the station itself is torture for him to live on (human norms are too bright and cold for Cardassian physiology). After he recovers from his breakdown, he returns to his amiable, cheerful, sarcastic disposition but every so often episodes will revisit just how much pain and loneliness he continues to hide as a result of his exile.
- Ezri Dax makes a lot of sarcastic comments and uses Self-Deprecating Humor to cover her anxiety. It's implied she did this before her joining.
- Jeff on Community has been accused several times of hiding his feelings by being a wise-ass. This may be due to the fact that he spent several years as a lawyer, where keeping things to oneself is a professional necessity. It's also due in no small part to his misery at being forced to attend a crappy community college. He has himself on occasion admitted to it, and being in the study group has softened him a little, as shown in later episodes. Still doesn't stop him snarking when he's in a bad mood or feeling insecure, though.
- Josh Lyman on The West Wing manages to be both this and a Stepford Smiler, going back and forth between the two and doing it well enough that it takes six months for anyone to realize that he has PTSD after being nearly fatally shot.
- Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle does this to hide his insecurity and loneliness over his Dysfunctional Family, the fact that his only peers are sheltered rich nerds who don't understand how poor peoples' lives work, and the fact that almost everyone else ostracizes him for being smart. In his words, "I pretend it doesn't bother me and then lash out at people who don't deserve it."
- Douglas Richardson of Cabin Pressure uses blistering sarcasm to distract people from the loss of his position at Air England, his three failed marriages and his alcoholism. It works.
- Joanne from Company could be an example, depending on the interpretation. She is a snarky, abrasive alcoholic who has been divorced twice. Her current husband, Larry, says that she is "wildly conceited" with "no self-esteem", and that she still is unable to believe that he loves her and continues to be fascinated by her. Her song, The Ladies Who Lunch, starts as her critique of rich middle-aged women who wile away their lives with meaningless activities but turns into a scathing description of her own directionless life.
- Soren in Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance. When his facade even slightly pulls back, Ike notices. Thanks to Ike's willingness to listen, he's mostly feeling better in the sequel, although there are still some loose ends to tie up (namely, that Ike couldn't remember their first encounter).
- Shinji who talks to everyone in a very snarky manner. While he's always getting yelled at or even beaten by constantly saying what he thinks, he manages to tell Atsuki why he prefers to be a Jerkass than be a kind person that he is capable of. Wanting to be a surgeon was his dream but the idea of getting someone killed and being held responsible has made him put a wall between people to avoid someone from asking about his issues. He was also neglected by his parents.
- Hibiki has similar problems as Shinji but he combines being a Stepford Snarker with Stepford Smiler. To everyone, Hibiki is "polite" but his personality ends up getting him isolated so the only friend he does have is one he's very snarky toward. Given that Ryo is so dense, almost all the insults and compliments go over his head.
- Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss has elements of this and Stepford Smiler - his brand of snark comes with a permanent smile and cheerful tone attached. It seems to be a sort of self-enforced Intelligence Equals Isolation, and covers up his insecurity over his troubling childhood and apparent Lack of Empathy for others.
- Morrigan, resident Lady of Black Magic from Dragon Age: Origins, who uses the facade of a sultry ice queen to hide her extreme awkwardness from being raised in an isolated environment by a Humanoid Abomination.
- A conversation during Act II of Dragon Age II with Aveline can have her explicitly refer to a sarcastic Hawke as mix of this and a Sad Clown. This is due to Hawke's loneliness after the events of the game cause them to lose most of their family, either to death or the Circle/Templars/Wardens, leaving them nearly all alone in their family's big fancy estate.
- Gannayev of Mask of the Betrayer has a thing for throwing around snark and wordplay in order to avoid things he's uncomfortable talking about - usually himself. Kaelyn can see through it instantly, as Gann discovers when he unwisely asks just how she sees him.
Kaelyn: You toss about words like a wind around you, in the hopes that their speed and flurry will deflect questions and prevent you from being seen for what you are. You are hurt, Gannayev-of-Dreams. And that pain drives you to hurt others, for you have been taught that that is the wheel that turns the world.
- The Sith Inquisitor often comes across as one of these in Star Wars: The Old Republic, apparently having developed a world-weary disdain for other people during their time as a slave.
- Archer in Fate/stay night. It's clear early on that he's got some issues, but Tohsaka is actually bothered when he stops being stepfordy about it even before he Face Heel Turns.
- Ange Ushiromiya from Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a very troubled person, having been in a strained relationship with her aunt Eva who took her in after the deaths of the rest of the family on Rokkenjima, but she hides most of her issues behind an indifferent, snarky facade.
- In Homestuck: Dave, though that be more like Not So Stoic. Dave uses irony and jokes to hide his emotions.
- Vero from M9 Girls hides her loneliness with a strong attitude and caustic remarks.
- Daria, in later seasons of her show, becomes even more acerbic and sharp-tongued as she faces more real-life adolescent challenges.
- PJ on Goof Troop switches between this and The Eeyore. He will give snide criticisms to a lot of his best friend, Max's Zany Schemes, particularly when he thinks he'll have to suffer for them. However, when in this mode, he only snarks defensively, mainly when he's being dragged into doing something or given inadequate respect or sympathy, and is otherwise very friendly.
- Lance from Sym-Bionic Titan has a Dark and Troubled Past, mainly pertaining to his Disappeared Dad. At the start of the show, he's this often acting very moody and only seeming to be concerned with his duties. He does get a bit more cheerful and open as the show goes on though.
- Insult comedian Lisa Lampanelli gave a speech where she related her experience going to a "fat camp" to lose weight. The other attendants criticized her for making jokes about the process, accusing her of using humor as a defense mechanism to distance herself from treatment. Offended, Lampanelli was preparing to leave when she discovered that her ex-boyfriend had just died of diabetes, so she stayed in and presumably cracked less wise.
- There's a whole bit on Patton Oswalt's My Weakness is Strong album about how much he'd grown to depend on cynicism and sarcasm as a defense mechanism, and how he had to suddenly abandon that when, after he voiced the main character of Ratatouille, he found himself on all sorts of children's programming being interviewed by actual children. Suddenly he had to be sincere.